Community fund set up by AIC

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By ROBYN BRISTOW

The completion of a multi-million dollar contract to pipe the Amuri Irrigation Company’s (AIC) scheme is being celebrated with the setting up of a contestable community fund.

Aimed at developing sport, recreation and social activities in the Amuri basin, the company has established an $8000 Amuri Irrigation Community Fund as the $85 million project comes to a close.

The fund will be available for groups and individuals living within the Amuri Basin – Culverden, Rotherham and Waiau – with grant funding rounds held twice a year, in February and August.

A total of up to $1000 is available for each individual grant.

This year, however, the funding round will be held in November in recognition of the completion of work.

David Croft, chair of Amuri Irrigation says it seemed appropriate that the company found ways to involve the local community in celebrating the upgrade from an open race system to a piped network.

“We have relied heavily on the good will of the community over the past year and it is now our opportunity to give something back to the community that we live and work in.

“Grant recipients will need to demonstrate an alignment with our company values and show how they will contribute to the wider Amuri Basin community,” he says.

Additional information on the fund, including how to apply, is available on the Amuri Irrigation website www.amuriirrigation.co.nz.

The upgraded network included booster pumping, ponds, canals, pipe extensions and other works enabling AIC to irrigate 28,000 hectares of land in the Amuri Basin taking water from the Waiau and Hurunui rivers.

Nearly 40 percent of the irrigated land is used for cropping, sheep, beef and arable farming as well as dairy support and the remainder is used for dairying.

In February 2016, 95% of existing shareholders voted to pipe the Waiau and Balmoral schemes. It was quickly realised, according to the company’s website, that significant financial savings could be made if the project was finished within 12 months.

In August 2016, Monadelphous Engineering NZ Pty Limited was awarded the contract for $60m for pipe supply and installation with the first sod turned on September 19, 2016.

The design included 131 kilometres of pipe along four main pipelines – three from the Waiau scheme and one from the Balmoral scheme (Hurunui River) – with a total of 73 kilometres of the larger 0.6-1.6m diameter pipe, glass reinforced polymer (GRP) pipe imported from Turkey.

Prior to the pipe upgrade, AIC irrigated 22,175 hectares of land but with efficiencies gained through the removal of 106 kilometres of water races and piping them, more water is now available for the scheme to irrigate nearly 6000 more hectares under the existing consented water.

This includes 24,000 hectares from the pipe network and 4000 hectares will continue to be supplied from the existing water races which have been retained.

The upgrade required the last 1500 hectares of less efficient border dyke irrigation to be upgraded to spray irrigation which further reduced water use.